tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN August 25, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
now, i'll dream gig. now more businesses, in more places, can afford to dream gig. comcast, building america's largest gig-speed network. hello, again, thank you so much for joining me this saturday, i'm fredricka whitfield. president trump woke up at the white house fuming, taking to his bully pulpit once again to vent about a week's worth of controversy. the president lashing out in a fury of tweets.
taking aim at jeff sessions. trump clearly frustrated after news some of his most trusted allies are turning on him including former attorney michael cohen, chief financial officer for the trump organization alan weisselberg, and publisher ryan howard, and now cnn has exclusive reporting on a former trump doorman making accusations about the president's past. including an alleged secret affair with a former housekeeper. ryan nobles is at the white house. another nondisclosure agreement coming to light. this one with startling allegations. >> the allegations may not be as important as what it represents for the president and his legal situation going forward. they are pretty serious organizations that come from a former doorman. that worked at the trump world tower. he struck a deal with ami which
of course is the parent company of the national enquirer in 2015 where he would not reveal this information in exchange for $33,000 and a follow up penalty of $1 million if he did reveal what he claimed to know. that was he believed he knew of an affair that took place with president trump outside of his marriage with the housekeeper that resulted in a child. now, the national enquirer never reported this information. other news outlets have looked into these claims and have found them not to be credible. but the fact that he was part of this agreement is part of a group of agreements that the president had entered into with ami. now, what the big development here is that ami has lifted this prohibition on him talking about it. through his attorney, he's now revealed what he knows about this situation. so the question is are there other stories like this. other stories that ami has been holding on to at the behest of donald trump and the trump organization as a way to prevent them from making the president
look bad. this could be part of what we're seeing with david pecker who's the ami chief, who has struck a deal to be granted immunity for what he knew about the michael cohen information. and, fred, it's part of a pattern of people who have been close associates of president trump who have now turned on him in some form or fashion. we know the president isn't happy about this. he told fox earlier this week that he believes that flipping, as he called it, cooperating with authorities, should be almost illegal. and it is also showing a pattern by the president of being very upset about the investigation and the way the justice department is handling it in a much larger fashion. fred. >> all right, ryan nobles at the white house, thanks. so this feud between the president and the attorney general jeff sessions, well, that is escalating. the president now responding to sessions' pushback this week that the department of justice will not be influenced by politics. well, trump wrote this. jeff sessions said he wouldn't allow politics to influence him,
only because he doesn't understand what's happening underneath his command position. highly conflicted bob mueller and his dems are having a field day as real corruption goes untouched. no collusion. cnn politic reporter jeremy hurd joining us. this feud, it is escalating. what does the future hold? you know, is there a way to tell what the future holds for sessions in all of this? >> yes, that's right, fred. the attacks we've heard from president on his attorney general, those aren't new. but what's new this week is sort of how directly we heard jeff sessions push back against the president. you know, after the president said on fox news earlier this week that the -- that sessions is failed to take control of the justice department. the attorney general issued a rare statement saying his department would not be influenced by political considerations. of course, as we saw from these tweets, that did little to stop the president's criticisms of his attorney general. the big other development here that needs to be watched is what
happened on capitol hill. we've heard from republicans in the past that they've warned the president do not fire your attorney general. this week lindsey graham seemed to signal that after the midterms that that position would shift for republicans. >> and that confused so many. you know, so the president, you know, threatened once again this morning that he may at some point have to get involved with the fbi. we've heard this several times. you know, over the past few months. but this is what he said on his angry rant to fox news in april. >> and you look at the corruption at the top of the fbi. it's a disgrace. and our justice department, which i try and stay away from, but at some point, i won't. >> then one month later, he made a similar threat about the justice department. saying, i'm quoting now, at some point, i will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the presidency and get involved. and then in jurnne he wrote, i
have tried to stay uninvolved with the debt partment of justi and fbi, although i do not legally have to. so what's going on here? is there a way in which to read the tea leaves in this, you know, kind of stream of consciousness from the president? >> i think this is him saying -- reserving the right to act. he said he has the power as head of the executive branch to intervene here, you know, with sessions, with rosenstein, with mueller. the issue of course is politically that could be a nightmare for the white house if he actually were to move to fire mueller. so far, we haven't seen any indications he is taking active steps to do that. even republicans said that would be a move that would threaten his presidency. i think this is something as the whole investigation get closer and closer to the president, the democrats are certainly watching to see if they do make any actual concrete moves in that direction. >> all right. jeremy herb, thanks so much. president trump's loyal inner circle, it's crumbling.
we're learning about immunity deals for two other longtime trump allies including his chief money man. cnn's athena jones breaks down the latest developments. >> reporter: in what could be a new blow to president trump, sources tell cnn trump organization money man allen weisselberg granted immunity to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating trump's former personal attorney michael cohen who pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and implicated trump in his plea deal. >> replacing george this week is my chief financial officer allen weisselberg. and you think george is tough, wait till you see allen. >> reporter: weisselberg, the company's chief financial officer, seen here on an episode of "the apprentice" has worked for trump for decades. as one former employee put it, he knows where all the proverbial financial bodies are buried. anything and everything that's been done. he personally gave trump updates on these matters. a source familiar tells cnn
weisselberg's interview with investigators took place weeks ago and focused on cohen and the hush money payments to two women claiming to have had affairs with trump which he denies. >> i spoke to allen about it. when it comes time for the financing. >> reporter: weisselberg figures prominently in the recording of the conversation he had with trump two months before the 2016 presidential election about payments to former playboy model karen mcdougal. >> i spoke to allen weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with funding. >> reporter: another person on the tape, national enquirer chief david pecker, a longtime friend of trump's who also received an immunity deal from prosecutors. according to the prosecutor, he backed up the details, saying trump was aware of the payments at the time, despite claiming to know nothing about them. the manhattan district attorney's office is considering pursuing criminal charges against the trump organization and two senior company
executives in connection with cohen's payment to porn star stormy daniels. trump's legal team declined to comment but trump made it clear what he thought about immunity deals during the campaign. >> if you're not guilty of a crime, why do you need immunity? >> reporter: athena jones, cnn, new york. >> all right, here with me now cnn political commentator and assistant editor at the "washington post" david swirlick. david, you first. all of these people flipping, talking, you know, to prosecutors. in your view, what's the inference here? >> good afternoon, fred. so yes, if you have the cfo of the trump organization potentially corroborating information that the southern district of new york got from michael cohen and you have david pecker, head of ami, friend of president trump, corroborating if, in fact, he can corroborate or has or will, that the president knew about efforts that his newspaper, the national inquirer, was taking on behalf
of president trump, that says two things. one, politically, that the president was not consistent or maybe just outright lied about what he knew and when relative to stormy daniels and the other -- karen mcdougal. the other thing that's potentially a legal problem for the president is this idea that he got a campaign finance in kind contribution. that's not proven yet but it's much easier to make the case that assistants with his knowledge, in advance, from a newspaper, is an in kind contribution, rather than something that came from michael cohen who worked for him. >> ross, i guess if you're donald trump, it's not just troublesome that it's like, you know, the volume of people, the number of people who are, you know, willing to cooperate with investigators, but it really is kind of the caliber of the people. those who are closest to him. in your view, when you look at this, outside, you know, looking in, we really don't know all the content they're able to share.
how potentially damaging do you see this? >> yes, that's right, fred. and i think, you know, this notion that it's about these sort of two campaign finance issues, i think that's kind of the equivalent to the broken tail light, and now the cops are looking inside your trunk. having access to the cfo of the organization, having access to a supporter like pecker, you know, that gives prosecutors and agents a significant insight into how the president operated his business, how the business perhaps continues to operate. the communications within the business. the flow of money, decisionmaking. and if i were -- if i were the president, if i were any of his chief executives, i'd be very concerned about this. >> and then, you know, david, this is obviously weighing heavy on the president. he's been tweeting. he's been going in lots of different directions. and if there has been a
sentiment that he's been somewhat bulletproof because there have been a lot of things that have been, you know, kind of clouding the white house, is this one of those things that could cause some real fracture within the republican party? there's been a lot of loyalty, you know, to the president. republicans who have been reticent about saying anything. are we moving in a direction where perhaps, you know, many are second-guessing that as you get closer to midterms? >> so on the one hand, fred, you have a lot of controversy and scandal and potential criminal allegations coming right to the president's doorstep. you have in this past week the cohen guilty plea. you have the manafort conviction. now you know that, as we just talked about, pecker and weisselberg have talked to prosecutors. this is closing in on the president in a sense. on the other hand, politically, we know the president is still above 40% in polling and that's where he was the day he took office. he has not lost a ton of his support among his base, among
republican voters, and republican members of congress can see this. they can read polls. and they know this. so that's why i think you haven't seen that many republicans come out this week and speak in more strong language about what's going on around the president because they rely on those same voters to get elected and they know that president trump is the sort of centering force in the republican party right now for better or worse. >> but the flip side to that is how potentially damaging is it for many of those elected officials who are, you know, leery of saying anything negative about the president or, you know, scorning what is being publicized, especially if we learn more that could be potentially incriminating for the president. what does that do to many of those who have been backing him? >> yes, and you hit on the key thing. it's, you know, once we learn more. at this point, you know, i think david's right. i think the president's support
is solid. and, you know, he's done a tactically good job of showing there is a cost for disloyalty. so i think if you are a republican in congress, you are likely to continue to support hill. and i think it's unlikely things are going to change dramatically before the midterms. we are sort of heading into that traditional blackout period that doj has on doing politically related cases before the midterms. i think a lot is going to depend on the midterms and what happens in the house. >> fred, can i make just one quick point? i agree with everything ross said. i would want to add whether you were talking about the end of 2016 with comey and clinton, whether you're talking about the mueller investigation now, the 60-day period is a doj guideline. >> yes. >> there's that law that says the doj can't investigate 60 days before an investigation. it's a memo that came from -- i know sometimes it's referred to as the holder memo.
it was also agreed to by other attorneys general beforehand. it's just a guideline. >> all right -- oh, go ahead. >> let's be clear, investigations are going to continue for sure during the 60 days. >> they'll be no back seat taken as it pertains to that. all right, russ, david, thank you so much. all right, still ahead, the pope speaking out about the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the catholic church. the pontiff calling the abuses a failure. what steps can the church take to stop similar abuses in the future? plus, a family's tragedy turns into a political talking point. how the murder of college student mollie tibbetts is being used to push for stronger immigration laws. and the trip is off. president trump frustrated over what he calls a lack of progress on denuclearization says secretary of state mike pompeo will no longer travel to north korea next week. at booking.com, we can't guarantee
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welcome back. pope francis is on an historic visit to ireland. the popemobile there. the first time a pope has visited the country in nearly four decades. he arrives as catholics are reeling from a sex abuse crisis in the catholic church. this morning, pope francis addressed the painful issue, speaking at the dublin castle. the pope offered sympathy to the symptoms of abuse carried out by clergy and a apology for the cover-up carried out by catholic church leaders. >> translator: the failure of the authorities, they showed priests and others inadequately addressed these crimes, rightly giving rise to this rage and the source of shame and pain for the catholics. i share those sentiments.
>> all right, joining me right now to discuss this is sister joan. she is a catholic nun and the author of "the gift of years." sister, thanks so much for being with me. you have been critical, you know, of the pope's response to the sex abuse crisis in the catholic church recently. but today when the pope said he offers apology and sympathies, is that enough in your view? >> not at all. it's a good beginning. it's a great beginning for a church that has refused to simply agree that the problem even existed. i've been writing about this a long with catholic writers everywhere since the year 2000 and 2002. this isn't new. nor is the problem new. it's one thing to accept the reality. we finally done that. it's one thing to sympathize with the victims. i think that's been relatively largely achieved. it's important to allow some
kind of -- and to create and to lead and to -- some sort of genuine honest compensation for the effect on this and it's really important to regret the whole situation. regret is hardly, hardly an adequate word. but it doesn't solve anything. we've been here before. we have to begin -- the church has got to begin to ask the question, what enables and sustains this possibility, this toxicity, this kind of thinking? what kind of thinking? well, the kind of thinking that the church, the church that we now call since vatican ii the people of god is still 1% of the catholic population, and it is
pat tr patriarchal male. that sees the clerk as the preserval of clerics. we have to change the thinking. >> a few things you talk about. praising the acknowledgement, you know, really looking into, you know, the cause, how this kind of -- if the environment or the fact that it's male dominated, you know, contributes to this. then i also hear from you almost like a but now what, now what can the catholic church do as a whole. is it to -- not just to stop but also to punish those who have been responsible for causing so much hurt and pain? >> well, i take that for granted. that is part of a legal system that we have resisted and denied for years. we have substituted canon law with all the good it does, but it's no substitute for civil law. it's no substitute for civil justice. it's no substitute for honesty.
so i'm saying that right form is far deeper than any kind of structural system can provide or any kind of regret will promise. >> how do you see having women in the clergy might change the environment, might make a colossal difference as it pertains to ending, you know, the rate of accusations of sex abuse within the church? >> well, for instance, just basically i'd like to know how much of this would have been done in secret or wouldn't have been stopped immediately if half of the people in the bishop's council rooms over the years have been women. would a mother have permitted
this to go on in the name of the institution rather than for the sake of the child in the first place? secondly, you have to understand that this is simply an example of how easy it is to suppress questions in an institution that's run and operated and envisioned by 1%, less than 1% of the population. you can't even get the woman's question on the table. you have to understand, this isn't new. we've been here before. we were here in the 16th century when martin luther wanted to ask. which 400 years later we admitted should be -- should have been followed, should have been pursued then. so it's a way of going about life. it's a way of defining the institution. it's the way of defining the
priest. as if priesthood is -- well, what the theologians call an entological change of the character. that this ordination itself changes the character. when you teach that and teach it long enough and people really believe it, no wonder parents themselves went into rectories and said, father, we don't want any of this to be a problem, we don't want to hurt the church. when, as a matter of fact, the church was hurting itself in the worst possible way. >> we'll leave it there for now. sister joan chitaster, thank you so much, appreciate it. still ahead, the family of mollie tibbetts says they do not want her death politicized. this, after the president and republican lawmakers have evoked her murder to call for stronger immigration laws. will this become a dominant strategy for republicans heading into the midterm elections?
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separated from her family. >> reporter: less than 24 hours after police discovered the body of missing iowa college student mollie tibbetts, they highlighted her death for immigration laws. tibbetts' body was found tuesday, a month after she went missing during an evening jog. 24-year-old rivera, an undocumented immigrant from the ne mexico, is behind bars, charged with her murder. he's being held on $5 million bail and faces life in prison without parole if convicted. >> all of us are saddened by the tragic death of mollie and the realization that one of our co-workers was involved. >> reporter: the night of rivera's arrest at a political rally in west virginia, trump used tibbetts' murder as an example of why voters need to
hit the polls in november and elect more republicans. >> the immigration laws are such a disgrace. we're getting them changed. but we have to get more republicans. we have to get. >> reporter: that same sentiment echoed the very next day by the president's press secretary. >> sadly, the individual believed to be responsible for the murder is an illegal immigrant, making this an unfortunate reminder of why we need to strengthen our immigration laws. >> reporter: and republicans on capitol hill -- >> it seems this murder was preventable. stricter border security measures including increased personnel, enhanced technology and modernized infrastructure could have prevented this man from crossing the border. >> reporter: throughout the ordeal, tibbetts family has tried to stay focused on her memory. >> we're going to miss her dearly. but to be honest what made her so special was she was just like anyone standing here.
she loved harry potter. >> reporter: mollie's aunt, billy joe calderwood, telling cnn she doesn't want mollie's memory lost amongst the politics. writing on facebook, quote, please remember evil comings in every color. and joining me right now, cnn senior media reporter oliver darcy, former politics editor for business insider. good to see you, oliver. so is this message that many republicans are pushing resonating or is there pushback like from what we heard from one of mollie's own family member, don't use her name in a politicized way? >> it's actually quite striking that republicans and conservatives are using her death to push political agenda. particularly because after mash shootings and other events, you see republicans saying now is not the time to talk about politics. let's offer thoughts and prayers. let's not use someone's death to
push policy. you see it right after the murder comes out and we find out that the immigration status of the alleged killer is undocumented. you see fox news programs and hospitals pushing immigration policy. you see the white house pushing immigration policy. meanwhile, her family is saying, hey, we don't want her death to get lost in politics. >> that hasn't ended it. that's what's striking. i guess it's one thing with permission, you know. if it were being used in a politicized way, it comes with the permission of the family. but we're not seeing that sequence at all. >> no, we're not. but, you know, this is normal i think for particularly this president and this white house. you saw the president when he launched his campaign speech, right, he gave a speech that talked about people coming into this country and he characterized undocumented immigrants as bringing crime, bringing drugs. he says they're rapists, they're
criminals and then some are good people. so this is not surprising they're seizing on this murder from someone who was here illegally but they're seizing on it to push this immigration policy. look, it works among trump's base. it really excites the base. and i think because of that unfortunately you're going to see him use this in the future and use murder like kate steinle and this recent one to advance his agenda on immigration. >> we saw it with kate steinle in 2015 so it is a continuation of a method the president has taken. a gop candidate in arizona went a step closer in politicizing mollie tibbetts' case, saying arizona's two republican senators and her political opponent were partially to blame for the tragedy. you know, dr. kelly ward actually tweeting this on tuesday. let's put it up. the lack of leadership encouraged by open border senators like jeff flake, senator john mccain and, you
know, #amnesty advocate contribute to these senseless deaths. there's a lot there, particularly at a time now, days later, that was tuesday but, you know, knowing john mccain's situation, you know, and his very, very tender time, as he fights a terminal, you know, brain cancer, i mean, does this just exemplify, you know, there really is no off limits areas as long as you're campaigning? >> i think what trump's really done is radicalized a wing of it. you see that with kelly ward. someone who's very far right, very closely aligned with brightbart, chaired formerly by steve bannon. you see them use this really heated rhetoric and things like immigration. they know this excites the base. so the rhetoric's out of control on it. that's really the bottom like.
it's just really striking to see republicans seize on someone's death, someone's murder, and push policies when, again, for so long, they were saying things like don't polite siicize death. now you see them doing it. >> all right, oliver darcy, thank you. i'm going to start with some balayage clip-ins,
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twitter yesterday, saying this. i have asked secretary of state mike pompeo not to go to north korea at this time because i feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. i want to bring in cnn national security analyst sam vinograd. what a difference 24 hours makes. what could happened in the time between pompeo's and trump's announcements? >> frankly i'm confused because on monday the iaea, which is the international recognized inspection agency for looking at things like denuclearization issued a really, really concerning report in which they expressed grave concern with the lack of progress on denuclearization and the ongoing construction of north korean nuclear sites. so that happened earlier in the week. but secretary pompeo still announced the trip on thursday, as you mentioned, and the president canceled it about 24 hours later.
what changed? north korea's ongoing nuclear activity has been a constant. the only thing that changed was a breakdown in trade talks. they were at a relatively low level but they ended at the end of the week or toward the end of the week and the president mentioned this in his tweet. he blamed china. so put the onus more on them than on kim jong-il who refused to denuclearization. >> then the optics of, you know, does this announcement from the president undermine the work of the secretary of state, even though, you know, sarah sanders, the white house spokesperson, said trump sent out this tweet canceling this visit even while pompeo was in the room so everybody knew about it? publicly, does did send the
right message? >> to have the secretary of state announce a new envoy and then 24 hours later issue what really is a tepid rain check on this trip. the president left the door more than ajar. he said he looked forward to seeing chairman kim, his words, at a future date. president trump said kim jong-un is not keeping his commitments, he's not denuclearizing, he's still looking forward to seeing him. so you have to wonder why that is, if kim jong-un is still violating international law, a can't imagine that president trump needed any more evidence than what was in the iaea report earlier in the week saying they weren't denuclearizing to decide to cancel this trip. >> if it's not an embarrassment to pompeo, might it ultimately be an embarrassment for trump because he's the one who famously k famously declared north korea was no longer a nuclear threat, saying that a few weeks ago, and of course he was giving much
praise after the meeting with kim jong-un. is this now kind of an admission that, well, maybe it's going to take some time or maybe we're not seeing the progress that, you know, the president boasted? >> i think it's an embarrassment for trump but more than anything it's a blow to global security and global stability because kim jong-un is proceeding with his nuclear program. but he's being embraced around the world. he is not considered really to be a rogue regime anymore. the proverbial kim train left the station the minute that president trump met with him in singapore before kim jong-un did anything. talking about the interkorean cooperation going on and $70 billion in economic growth that's going to benefit north korea and south korea without north korea denuclearizing. there are plans for infrastructure linking the two koreas to russia and china are going to bring economic benefits to kim. so at this point, people are
proceeding other leaders from south korea, russia, japan, with rushing the pressure campaign, giving kim economic relief, despite the fact he has this nuclear program. >> all right, sam vinograd, thanks. still ahead, the wife of ailing arizona senator john mccain sending out a message this morning following the news that the senator will no longer continue his cancer treatments. that's next. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. why accept it from an allergy pill? flonase relieves sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose, plus nasal congestion, which most pills don't. it's more complete allergy relief. flonase.
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tweeting this today. the entire mccain family is overwhelmled by the outpouring of love and support from around the world. her tweet coming just today after the family announced the senator is halting treatment for brain cancer. landslides and thrashing winds are threatening the hawaiian islands today. hurricane lane was downgraded to a tropical storm but residents are being told to remain vigilant as catastrophic rainfall and debris remain risks. >> we're asking people to please, please heed the warnings and pay attention. with the rain that could fall. with the storm surge that could come. there could be coastal flooding and flooding in our valleys. while we will take action wherever possible, we're going to be looking to take individual action. >> and the big island has already seen over 40 inches of rain in some areas. the former head of the centers for disease control is facing charges of forcibly touching a
woman. accused of grabbing the woman without her consent during a party at his home. he was arrested friday and faces three criminal charges. he has been released on his own recognizance. elon musk has given up on his plan to take tess at thtesl. he stunned investors earlier this month when he announced he would remove the carmaker from the stock market. musk says the sudden change in heard came from talking to tesla shareholders and hearing their advice that he should keep the company public. still so much more straight ahead in the "newsroom." first, here's this week's "start small, think big." >> i'm mexican-american so it was really important to me to be able to work directly with the latino community and be in a neighborhood where all kids would benefit from undivided attention. i am the co-founder of a-26
valencia and welcome to the pirate store. the original intention was to have a tutoring center where authors and professionals in the community could interact with young people and when this space was found, it was in the perfect neighborhood, in the heart of san francisco. but it requires a store selling items. the idea of having an open door out to the community where people could come in and enter this magical whimsical place caught on. so we use that exact model when we opened all the other sites. for example, in new york, it's superheroes. chicago's another example where there's a spy store and it's called the wicker park secret agent supply. first they feel welcome so that spirit of joyfulness i think is hard to pull off without an absolutely crazy store. ♪
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reon friday, sept 7th, tonijoin stand up to cancer for all the inspiration all the laughter kevin heart if you change one letter in 'cancer' it becomes 'dancer', what!? all the stars tom hanks keep this movement going strong. every network every star kevin bacon dream big with us. one night to save lives get ready to see it all tune in live, september 7th 8/7 central thank you for joining me this saturday. i'm fredricka whitfield. president trump is using his bully pulpit to once again go on the attack. he's lashing out after a turn lent week that saw many of his top allies flip, tweeting about everything from jeff sessions to the fbi's handling of the clinton e-mails to the u.s. relationship with mexico. trump specifically doubled down that he did not know about the
2016 trump tower meeting between campaign officials and russian lawyers. that meeting is at the crux of the mueller investigation into possible campaign collusion. even the personal attorney is weighing in. tweeting that if mueller wants to prove he's nonpartisan, he should finish his report ahead of the midterm elections. cnn white house reporter sarah westwood joins me right now. the president clearly is upset. >> that's right, fred, president trump has spent this morning fuming over the russian investigation and he's facing yet another legal complication after enduring a week of them. his former doorman is claiming to have knowledge of an affair president trump had years ago with his former househousekeepew claiming that relationship produced a child. although we first heard about the existence of these allegations in